Thursday, December 20, 2012

Call for Papers: Workshop: Living Inside Mobile Social Information

Call for Papers: Workshop: Living Inside Mobile Social Information

Workshop at Boston University’s College of Communication April 29-30, 2013

Submissions due: January 15, 2013

What will social life be like when each of us has instant personal information about those around us? It is easy to conjure utopian and dystopian visions of this future. By contrast, the purpose of this workshop is to draw upon empirical evidence we already have to construct frameworks for rigorous understandings of these likely changes. Emerging technologies are increasingly offering mobile people convenient heads-up displays of situationally relevant data on an individualized basis. Such data could be based on cues such as eye-tracking or physical location in an environment. Data streams could include co-location of friends, commercial offers, tourist information, news and sports updates, and even running scans of personal characteristics of passers-by on the street. When chatting with friends, voice stress analysis and other psychological state indications could be detected and displayed to users. A host of issues will arise as people begin interacting with these technologies which will likely engage a gamut of utopian and dystopian possibilities.

Having readily accessible information concerning the ambient environment is for many an exciting prospect though for others it is a source of concern and distress. Yet despite strong reactions to these developments, commentary on how such technologies may affect social relations and individuals’ internal states has too often remained the province of casual commentators. By contrast, drawing on research – including on topics such as ubiquitous and immersive computing, media and locational badges, and distributed context-aware applications – insights may be available concerning interactions that future users may face. Historical analogies should also prove illuminating. The purpose of this workshop therefore is to move past casual speculation and instead draw on systematic social-science based analyses of relevant issues regarding interaction under mobile conditions when information, especially socially relevant information, is widely available.

Workshop Dates

The two-day workshop will be held at Boston University (Boston, MA, USA) on Monday and Tuesday, April 29-30, 2013. Offering a mix of invited and submitted papers, it will have both public and experts-only sessions. Submitted abstracts will be competitively judged by a peer-review panel. A selection of workshop papers will be published in a peer-reviewed edited book. The book will be published as an open-access volume.

Who should submit papers?

For those who may have researched this topic from any of a variety of perspectives, this workshop provides an opportunity to explore these questions in greater depth. Scholars and researchers are invited to submit paper abstracts for presentation consideration. One goal of the workshop is to draw on the best of current thinking to develop a conceptual map as to what is known and what are the pertinent research and policy questions that can be reasonably addressed. In addition, ideas will be gathered about what data are needed to better understand the issue area. In essence, then, the workshop aims to overlay and integrate perspectives from communication research, social psychology, anthropology and sociology with what has traditionally been a heavily gadget-centered/ubiquitous-computing line of research.

Suggested Topics

The topics that might be developed for the workshop – preferably based on empirical data, such as small-scale studies, prototype development, historical analogies or tests and surveys – could include:

Are there likely to be cognitive difficulties handling the multi-tasking that such technologies will provide? To what extent will the technologies give rise to feelings of “information overload” or lead people to be more effective and satisfied with their daily lives?

What opportunities are there for tapping user behavior for commercial, educational and touristic endeavors? How can the benefits of such opportunities be distributed equitably?

Some envisioned technologies could allow users to determine state-of-being qualities about those around them. Such information might include body temperature, galvanic skin response, and blood pressure which could be used to create indices of nervousness or fitness. What interactional, policy and social issues will such uses have?

Will these technologies require modifications in privacy protections? What mechanisms can best address such a fast-moving area?

What are implications for societies in the developing world? Will these technologies reduce or exacerbate issues of digital divides, economic opportunity, democratic practices, political mobilization and individual freedom?

An individual’s real-time health conditions and behavior can be collected and displayed. Will people benefit from such information, decide to ignore it, or experience anxiety and preoccupation about medical issues?

Submission information

Those wishing to submit a paper for presentation consideration at the workshop should e-mail the following material to by January 15, 2013:

Author names(s)

Position title, affiliation and website

Email and physical mailing address

Title of abstract

Body of abstract of at least 200 words, including major conclusion

Author profile of about 120 words, including relevant publications

Acceptance decisions will be made by January 30, 2013. Final papers of no more than 25 double-spaced pages will be due on April 12, 2013. They will be distributed to other expert-session participants before the event so that participants can devote more time to discussing issues raised by the papers in contrast to listening to formal presentations.

This event is sponsored by the Division of Emerging Media Studies, College of Communication, Boston University and co-sponsored by Microsoft Research.

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